• Epigallocatechin gallate from green tea effectively blocks infection of SARS-CoV-2 and new variants by inhibiting spike binding to ACE2 receptor

      Liu, Jinbiao; Bodnar, Brittany; Meng, Fengzhen; Khan, Adil I.; Wang, Xu; Saribas, Sami; Wang, Tao; Lohani, Saroj Chandra; Wang, Peng; Wei, Zhengyu; Luo, Jinjun; Zhou, Lina; Wu, Jianguo; Luo, Guangxiang; Li, Qingsheng; Hu, Wenhui; Ho, Wenzhe; Bodnar|0000-0003-0467-5219 (2021-08-31)
      Background: As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the new SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged in the different regions of the world. These newly emerged variants have mutations in their spike (S) protein that may confer resistance to vaccine-elicited immunity and existing neutralizing antibody therapeutics. Therefore, there is still an urgent need of safe, effective, and affordable agents for prevention/treatment of SARS-CoV-2 and its variant infection. Results: We demonstrated that green tea beverage (GTB) or its major ingredient, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), were highly effective in inhibiting infection of live SARS-CoV-2 and human coronavirus (HCoV OC43). In addition, infection of the pseudoviruses with spikes of the new variants (UK-B.1.1.7, SA-B.1.351, and CA-B.1.429) was efficiently blocked by GTB or EGCG. Among the 4 active green tea catechins at noncytotoxic doses, EGCG was the most potent in the action against the viruses. The highest inhibitory activity was observed when the viruses or the cells were pre-incubated with EGCG prior to the infection. Mechanistic studies revealed that EGCG blocked infection at the entry step through interfering with the engagement of the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the viral spikes to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor of the host cells. Conclusions: These data support further clinical evaluation and development of EGCG as a novel, safe, and cost-effective natural product for prevention/treatment of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and infection.